Potter Proof Presses

Printing bedPotter Pressimg_2659.jpg

Howdy Vandercookers! I was directed here by Daniel Morris of The Arm Letterpress. I’ve found a Potter Proof press locally in NJ and am considering purchasing it. Most of my work is small-run and wood-type based, so having a printing bed larger than my 8×12 platen is a big plus. But, I know really nothing about these presses. I’ve worked a fair amount on some Vandercooks, so I get the basics of a cylinder press.

From the illustrations in the ’23 ATF catalog, I believe the press for sale is a Potter #2. I’m basing this solely off the foot-lever design. Next time I’m at the guy’s shop, I’ll get some pictures and post them. It was pretty dark in there so I couldn’t really read the nameplate.

So, any info on that press would be helpful. How’s the impression? Is inking via brayer a real pain in the neck? What is this press worth, anyway?

Thanks for any help you guys can provide!

Update: I’ve added a few pictures of the press. It looks pretty good to me, but, like I said, I’m a novice. The cylinder just move, but it’s pretty stiff. Probably some oil/grease should fix that. The printer said he hadn’t used it in over 40 years.

Potter Proof Presses

9 thoughts on “Potter Proof Presses

  • July 14, 2007 at 8:12 am
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    Jonathan: I do think it’s a No.2 and that it will suit your purpose. Just don’t over pack the cylinder or you risk throwing the impression bearings out of adjustment, damaging the bearers or breaking the wood type.

  • July 13, 2007 at 7:55 pm
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    Am I right that is a No.2? There didn’t seem to be any other markings on the machine, although I couldn’t get behind it.

    For me to use in making prints with woodtype, not large runs, you think this is worth buying? Anything I need to specifically check out to make sure it’s fully functional? I’d hate to have an 800 lb door stop in my garage.

  • July 13, 2007 at 4:41 pm
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    Jonathan,
    Thanks for adding the images. It is interesting to see the Hacker and Potter names on the same badge. Further down the line you see Hacker and Vandercook names together on badges of things like type high and plate gauges.

    Daniel Morris
    The Arm Letterpress
    Brooklyn, NY

  • July 9, 2007 at 2:29 pm
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    Jonathan,
    For your bed plate just take the bed measurements (length and width) to a machine shop and instruct them to cut you a piece of .050 cold rolled steel. Don’t let them use galvanized because it has too much variation in thickness.

    Daniel Morris
    The Arm Letterpress
    Brooklyn, NY

  • July 9, 2007 at 8:35 am
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    A galley plate is .050″ thick. (same as a galley). A chase is less than type high, otherwise it would take ink and print.

    Assuming that you have lock up pins in one end of the press bed you could use a dear bar and a positive lock up bar. However, using a chase with quoins is your best choice for locking up forms on this press, mainly because when printing wood type you’ll find the need to add underlays to particular sorts that are no longer type high. With a chase you can simply lift the whole form and spot up where needed. Of course after you set it on the bed again you’ll need to unlock the form and plane it again.

    I would not glue down any material to the bed you will inevitably need to remove it for a subsequent job.

  • July 9, 2007 at 7:53 am
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    Only 800 lbs! I should be able to do that myself…

    Thanks for the information. I’ll have to go over the press abit more next time I’m at the guy’s shop to get a better idea of its condition.

    One other question: the owner said it was for use with galleys. Does that suggest that the bed isn’t type-high, but needs an underlay (or a large galley)? A chase would only be type-high.

    Is there a positive lockup bar for these presses like the Vandercooks? If I wanted to add something like that, I could probably just either glue down a piece of wood or metal, I suppose.

  • July 8, 2007 at 9:14 pm
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    Hello Jonathan,
    Since you plan to work primarily from wood type this press might be a decent choice. The grippers are not very advanced on these machines and there is no feed board so registration may be a bit hit and miss. You will probably want to tape down some sort of side guide on the tympan to register the far edge of the sheet. And since this press was for printing type in a chase you will need to either add a dead bar to the far end of the bed or work within a chase.
    Using a hand brayer to ink wood type isn’t nearly as tricky as on small metal type. If the price is right (I’d say under $600 if the press is clean and complete) then I think it could be right up your alley. And at only 800 lbs., the move shouldn’t be too horrible either!

    Daniel Morris
    The Arm Letterpress
    Brooklyn, NY

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